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Zelenskyy's 100 Days in Office: What Has Been Achieved (And What Hasn't)
28 August, 2019
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The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the ceremony of raising the flag on the Day of Ukrainian Flag on August 23, 2019. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has brought in new faces but failed to deliver on what he promised would be a quick solution during his election campaign.

The Window of Opportunity

Zelenskyy’s biggest win so far has been his party Servant of the People’s confident victory in the early parliamentary election. 

The people of Ukraine supported Zelenskyy’s early decision to dissolve the parliament by giving his party 253 seats in the new parliament.

READ MORE: Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People Set to Get Single-Party Majority​

Ukraine’s first single-party majority paves the way for control over the executive branch of power - the government, as well as the law enforcement: Interior Minister, Security Service (SBU) and Prosecutor General are all appointed by parliamentarians.

The SBU itself, however, continues to inspect businesses. Whilst Zelenskyy speaks of stripping the body of its function to investigate economic crimes, the SBU initiated proceedings against the largest metallurgic plant in Ukraine - ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih accusing it of ecocide. The latter agreed to invest $1.8 billion in modernization, but lost $150 million in the process due to its accounts being temporarily frozen.

The head of state dismissed 22 out of 24 heads of regional state administrations. Only half of the new appointments were permanent ones.

Head of the presidential office Andriy Bohdan wanted to strip Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko of his second position of head of Kyiv City state administration, but the incumbent Cabinet refused this wish.      

READ MORE: Why Does Ukraine's Zelenskyy Want to Strip Kyiv Mayor Klitschko of Power?​

Bohdan himself has shown knowledge of legal loopholes already. Despite him working in Mykola Azarov’s government, he managed to avoid ‘lustration’ because according to Bohdan is “not technically an official”.

The Key Promise

The other promises remain unfulfilled. Zelenskyy’s Office is still on Bankova Street. 24 Ukrainian sailors remain in Russian prisons for three months straight following International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s ruling to release them immediately.

Despite head of state’s direct negotiations with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, military prisoners have not yet been released.  

Cooperation with Western partners has not been fruitful either. The Trilateral Contact Group has been ‘relaunched’, but the agreed ceasefire was rather short-lived.

There has been some progress on the issue of prisoner exchange, though. Last week delivered news of an agreed 33-for-33 exchange and five Ukrainian political prisoners were even transported to Moscow’s infamous Lefortovo remand prison, but we are yet to witness the process.

Among other promises, President’s Office wants to alter the humanitarian policy through creation of a Russian-language state channel which would help Ukrainian authorities convey their message to the occupied territories and Russia itself.

READ MORE: Untitled Interview With Deputy Head of Zelenskyy’s Presidential Office

The only real achievement of the Minsk Agreements has been the Separation of forces in Stanytsia Luhanska. However, the bridge destroyed in 2014 remains unrepaired, admittedly due to the militants’ failure to remove fortifications.  

READ MORE: Ukraine's War-Torn Stanytsia Luhanska Sees Historic Separation of Forces

In order to resolve the issue of Donbas, Zelenskyy promised to make better use of the Normandy Format. Whilst Paris and Berlin supported Kyiv’s position, we are yet to see what this might mean.

Practical Diplomacy

During the first two months of Zelenskyy’s presidency, the international community has tried to bring Russia back from political isolation. In case of PACE, they were successful. Ukrainian President claimed the die had been cast by the time he met with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.

READ MORE: PACE Restores Russia’s Voting Rights

With G7, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada prevented Russia’s return to G8.

There have been issues with Ukraine’s key partner in respect of national security: the U.S., however. Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani encouraged Zelenskyy’s assistant Andriy Yermak to investigate Joe Biden’s possible conflict of interests during his tenure as VP when his son Hunter worked at a private Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Lutsenko Deliberately Misinformed Giuliani - MP Leshchenko​

It would not, however, be a wise idea to develop a strained relationship with the Democrats’ frontrunner for the 2020 Presidential Election.

Zelenskyy’s first 100 days in office were a warm-up before the new parliament’s first session. There will no longer be barriers to blame for failure to deliver on promises. Economic reforms, battle against corruption and peace are what people expect above all from the soon-to-be omnipotent head of state.